There are a number of surprising elements in Helsinki’s latest indie sensation, Artur U & the New City Limits. Their debut album, Holiday from Eternity, is such a mix of different sounds, it is hard to define or even describe the band’s sound. Their frontman and namesake, Artur U, is also full of surprises, as he employs the steel guitar almost exclusively to create some very unorthodox and surprising guitar sounds.
Artur U & the New City Limits name some of their influences as Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and even the White Stripes. Artur U himself also cites well-known steel guitar players T,he Campbell Brothers and Robert Randolph as muses for his playing. He mixes this unusual instrument with Tuomas Orasmaa’s 80s new wave synths and Toni Mäntylä and Miika Suomalainen’s jazzy drums and bass to create a musical sound which does not exactly check any indie boxes, past or present.
Artur U’s vocals may remind audiences of Mark Hollis from Talk Talk, showing yet more 80s flare, while Johanna Saarinen’s vocals, which normally appear right alongside U’s, are more classical in nature. The overall feel between music and vocals could be seen as similar somewhat to the Psychedelic Furs, but that is not exactly apt. With the lack of a good comparison readily available, Artur U & the New City Limits’ sound could be seen as a mashup of progressive rock, new wave, jazz and early college radio indie rock.
Holiday from Eternity was released in February and the band has released two singles with corresponding videos. The video for On a Holiday was posted on Youtube in October as a preview to the album’s release and was directed by fellow Fin, Rasmus Flinck. Fans can just make out Artur U’s steel guitar in the video, and he is indeed coaxing some interesting hard rock sounds out of this instrument, which is usually associated with country or blues music. This song is one of Artur U & the New City Limits’ faster tracks, with lots of contributions from the synthesizer to add a touch of new wave to the rock.
The second single released from Holiday from Eternity is called Monkey House. This song brings in the indie/college rock style, which is clearly also very important to the band. Still very 80s, influences like the Pixies, Peter Gabriel and The Velvet Underground are apparent in this song, paying homage to the band’s favorite indie acts.
Another highlight, Wind, is a slower, more ballad-like track which showcases Artur U’s steel guitar work in a much more conventional way. The song is sparse with little accompaniment, and Artur U uses this quiet backdrop to play the instrument in its more recognizable ethereal and American country or blues form.
Artur U & the New City Limits’ style is interesting and very well-put together, and Artur U himself brings added interest to the band’s sound by playing all the guitar parts on the steel guitar. Their sound is indeed unique, almost to the point of being indescribable. Their many and sundry influences show through in a way which does not detract from this unique sound, but only makes the band more different and original.
The only tracks which are currently available to stream without purchasing Holiday from Eternity are On a Holiday and Monkey House, and both of them are available via the Youtube videos. On a Holiday is available to stream on the band’s Soundcloud as well. Recordshopx.com is currently the only place where the album can be purchased in full, so it appears that this new indie band is very new and very indie. All links are listed below in sources.
Review by Layla Klamt